Arizona Study Suggests Revising Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Location Criteria to Include Roadways with Speed Limits of Up To 50 MPH and Latent Crossing Demand.
Operational Data and Safety Analysis in Arizona Provides Recommendations for Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Evaluation Criteria and Designs to Improve Roadway Safety and Operation.
Made Public Date


United States

Evaluation of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons on Arizona Highways


The study primarily intended to evaluate the operational and safety impacts of pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) on Arizona state highways to understand their impacts on vehicles and pedestrians. The study investigated the relationship between crashes at PHB locations and the spacing from nearby signalized intersections, as well as other roadway characteristics.

PHB indications sequence through dark, flashing yellow, steady yellow, steady red, alternating flashing red and then dark again. A total of 822 PHB locations across 10 sites (all with speed limits of 45 or 50 mi/h) were evaluated. The sites were located throughout Arizona in Bullhead City, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Pima County.

  • An operational analysis assessed PHB effectiveness with an observation study. A total of 1,214 pedestrians and bicyclists were observed between April 25 and May 8, 2018; 40 hours of video data of each site were manually evaluated.
  • A separate safety evaluation assessed a total of 343 sites (186 PHBs, 56 signalized intersections, and 101 unsignalized intersections).

Lessons Learned

Below are recommendations for PHB design and application:

  • Increase the upper speed limit of roadways where PHBs can be installed to 50 MPH. Current guidance states that states that PHBs should not be installed on roadways with speed limits greater than 45
    mph. However, this guidance can be updated based on operational data and safety analysis in this study that indicate that a PHB will operate at a good level of safety on a street with a posted speed of 50 mph.
  • Include latent crossing demand as PHB evaluation criteria. A latent crossing demand study (if conducted) would document the method used to estimate potential crossing numbers to determine if a controlled crossing (PHB) would be recommended on a state highway.
  • Install PHBs on one side of an intersection to direct pedestrians crossing the main street to the PHB-controlled crossing. Additionally, it is recommended to install markings that prohibit pedestrians from using other crosswalks.
  • Install STOP HERE ON RED, STOP HERE FOR PEDESTRIANS, and CROSSWALK STOP ON RED signs. Such signage ensures that drivers and motorists yield to the PHB regardless of indication. Additionally, signs encouraging drivers to proceed after a pedestrian has crossed their half of the street should be installed; this improves traffic flow and operational efficiency.
  • Install one PHB signal face over each through lane of streets with a posted speed limit of 40 MPH or higher. Since PHBs may be slightly less recognizable to motorists than an average traffic signal, such placement increases visibility. 
  • Place PHBs at least 300 feet from another controlled pedestrian crossing. Synchronize PHBs with the adjacent traffic signal if it is placed within 600 feet of another traffic control device.
  • Include a consistent 4-second buffer interval at the end of the pedestrian countdown sequence. Such a buffer is desired before the PHB goes dark.
  • Provide accessible pedestrian signal (APS) pushbuttons and nighttime light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. This helps intersections and drivers better detect pedestrians, both during the day and at night. 
System Engineering Elements